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For those of you who don't know, second row is a position in rugby. A second row is a forward who plays in the second row of the scrum, hence the name. They are also the people who jump in the lineouts, where they normally take positions two and four in the line.

Second rows should be tall. I'm 6'3" and am consideredslightly short for a second row. You need to be tall so that you can jump, be lifted and secure the ball in lineouts. Winning lineout ball is hugely important as it means you can rapidly move the ball in a number of ways from the touch situation.

Favoured moves are varied. The long drive where the jumper secures the ball, and the rest of the scrum binds onto him, and proceeds to simply push their way up the field as far as they can. Short drives can be used when you're close to the try line, and can crash over for a try. An off the top ball means the second row taps the ball down, normally for the scrum half to take, and move the ball rapidly to the backs. This can gain a lot of ground without bogging down the forwards in a ruck or maul situation.

If you are a second row, you either love jumping, or you hate it. If you can jump well, then you will win all of your throws, and some of the oppositions throws as well. If you hate it, then you should jump at number four position, as you won't get the ball much.

As a small aside, lineout calls are an intriguing part of the second row play, requiring a modicum of mental activity not usually associated with forwards. The ball can either go to two, to four, or right over the top to the back in an optimistically flawed throw. The normal way to represent this is to use phrases with three words, where no letter is repeated. Examples are 'John Fucks Mary', 'Thames Rowing Club', 'Navy Blue Socks' and the inimitable 'Shit Rape Fuck'. The hooker picks a random word starting with any letter in any of the words in the phrase, and throws the ball. If, as many clubs do, we were using 'Shit Rape Fuck', for example, a 'Stump' ball would go to the number two jumper, and a 'Arsehole' ball to the number four jumper. There are infinite variations on these calls to indicate where the ball should go after the catch.

In summary, being a second row is good for the following reasons:

  • you get access to the ball a lot through jumping
  • you don't have to go in the front row of the scrum
  • you get to wear scrum caps which intimidate, whilst protecting your ears
  • you get to use obscene codes as part of the game
  • you get to play rugby. This is a good thing
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